The basketball bounced off the front rim, tapped the glass and found the front iron again, and just rolled down the nets and in that moment, Alana Ellis saw all of her hard work and emotions culminate into securing a crucial goal in her life.
Scoring 1,000 points in her career at Twinsburg. Checkmark.
Overcoming incredible adversity due to a knee injury early in her senior campaign of a strong career. Check.
With 5:50 left in the 49-45 home win over Brecksville Jan. 25, Ellis released a jump shot a few feet beyond the 3-point arc at the top of the key that forever changed her life.
"As soon as that shot went through the hoop, the weight was off of my shoulders and I was so relieved," said the 6-foot guard/wing.
"I put a lot of pressure on myself to perform prior to this season and I am proud that I faced adversity and stayed the course to reach my goal," she added.
"It was a touching moment that I will never forget, to see my family, teammates, coaches and the crowd acknowledge the accomplishment of this milestone."
There was a stoppage of play, graciously received by the Brecksville side, in a court ceremony for Ellis, as she was presented a game ball by head coach Jess Rader that handed over by Athletic Director Brian Fantone.
Holding fresh flowers after the game, Ellis was emotional, but as cool as a cucumber with her usual poised and calm demeanor. Check.
"I thank God, family, coaches and my teammates for contributing to my growth as a person and a player," said Ellis.
"A special thank you to my dad (Tony), who introduced me to basketball at a young age. I would not be the player I am without him."
Things haven’t come easy for Ellis in her senior season.
As the young Tigers were looking to gel, Ellis had come off a 22-point eruption at North Royalton, and was injured in a tough home game against league rival Stow-Munroe Falls in the third game.
It was tough, but Ellis was up for the battle to recover when things changed in late December.
"Thinking that it was a bad knee sprain, I started physical therapy," she said. "I later found out after Christmas that I had ACL damage."
After receiving proper rehab, Ellis came back at a modest pace after missing nearly a month of action.
"It’s been challenging emotionally and physically, not being as explosive as I was pre-injury, but I’ve cherished being back on the court with my teammates," said Ellis, who had a choice to have the knee surgery immediately and elected to play ball.
"I have had rehab to strengthen the muscles around my knee and the most challenging part of my rehab is yet to come after my surgery, but I’m up for it," she added.
Ellis doesn’t have her vertical jump back and she is learning to be patient and adjust her game, just a bit.
Scoring ability and confidence are her biggest strengths, according to Ellis, who earned All-Ohio honorable mention last year with a 19.8-point average.
"Hitting 1,000 points was extremely important to me because of all the work I’ve put in throughout the years to become the player I am and the dedication to the game," she offered.
Working for hours after team practices, working on the weekends and during off the off seasons, Ellis played hoops with men and high school boys for toughness and to improve on defense.
"I try to improve every aspect of my game," said Ellis, who also recalled all of the AAU action.
"I really focused on utilizing film to uncover opportunities in my game and how to find weaknesses in my opponent."
Ellis is part of a small senior class that includes starters Faith Gregory and Alex Walker, but the Tigers are very young.
"We are a young team with very few seniors and our class makes up for the small number by giving back and helping the underclassmen on their approach to the game," Ellis stressed. "Win or lose, we are still a basketball family."
Rader praised the determination of Ellis as well as her modesty on and off the court.
"Alana is extremely humble and is so unselfish," said Rader.
In addition, Ellis joins a rich fraternity of former great Tiger players.
"It has been my dream since I was eight to have a successful high school career and to play in college," she said.
Some of the schools that have shown interest are Notre Dame College, Cleveland State University, and Coppin State (MD).
"I have had offers and interest from southern and east coast universities, but wanted to be closer to home," noted Ellis, who considers herself a shooting guard and a wing, depending on the offensive scheme.
She added, "I have always been a scorer with the ability to handle the ball as well as penetrate and find my open teammate."
Exploding for 18 of Twinsburg’s first 21 points, Ellis tossed in a near school-record of 38 points in a win over Hudson last year. It was two points shy of the mark.
That’s the second most in school history in a storied program that includes record-holder Ashley Morrissette (Purdue) and Malina Howard (Maryland), a pair of Miss Ohio Basketball Player of the Year honorees.
Thanks to her scoring, Ellis is in good company as Twinsburg has had three McDonald’s All-American nominees in Howard, Morrissette, and Baleigh Reid (Miami of Ohio).
In the biggest game of her life in the win over Brecksville, Ellis showed another side of her game as she dished out four assists and had three feeds in a critical fourth quarter.
Versatility and modesty are both on the resume for Ellis, who will take on all challenges.